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International Court: Kenya a No-Show in Border disputes with Somalia.

On Monday 15th the International Court of Justice begun hearings on a maritime boundary dispute between Kenya and Somalia after out-of-court negotiations failed to reach a consensus between the two nations.

The case that was filed by the Somali government in 2014, has faced a number of delays and setbacks and in recent developments the Kenyan government has also refused to attend the proceedings citing “a perceived bias and unwillingness’ of the ICJ to accommodate requests for the delaying of the hearings due to the pandemic.

“We are deeply concerned that Kenya has decided not to appear at these hearings.” said Mahdi Mohammed Gulaid, representative, Somali Government. He further explained that Kenya had no grounds to complain about its treatment by the court after the ICJ granted three previous requests for delays that halted proceedings for 18months.

The boundary in question consists of about 40,000 sq miles of sea floor that both nations currently lay a claim to. Somalia argues that the Kenyan government illegally awarded exploration rights to two companies within what they claim as their territory while Kenya on the other hand maintains that the border should take a 45 degree turn at the shoreline; which would allow it more territory and within its jurisdiction to explore.

Somalia has also come out to refute any claims made by the Kenyan government of an agreement between the two nations in 1979 that allowed the Kenyan government to take over the contested area unopposed. “Kenya’s argument roughly could be, ‘If you haven’t disputed something for 35 years, then it becomes some sort of agreement between the two.” explained Antonios Tzanakopoulos, associate professor of Public International law, Oxford University.

Kenya deciding to pull out of the hearings last minute will not hinder the court process or final judgment in any way. However beyond that, the ICJ is incapable of enforcing its decisions with a number of countries in the past refusing to appear in court and ignoring their judgments all together.

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